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Leonid Meteor Shower 2012: Sky Report for Hollywood

The Leonid meteor shower will peak on Nov. 17 and Nov. 20.

Keep your eyes on the sky during the pre-dawn hours of Nov. 17-20, because that's when the famous Leonid meteor shower is expected to peak. These meteors are fast (about 40 miles per second) and can leave trails of smoke, according to Astronomy.com. They will appear to radiate from the constellation Leo the Lion and can vary in color.

Find a dark place with little light pollution to look get a good look at the Leonids.

In Hollywood, the ideal spot would be in the hills of Hollywood, perhaps near Mulholland Drive.

According to the Sky Report on Griffith Observatory's website, Astronomical Observer Anthony Cook remarks:

While the annual Leonid meteor shower happens in November, it is now in a quiet phase and is not expected to produce much activity when it reaches maximum in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday, November 17. Meteor experts expect fewer than 10 shower meteors per hour will be visible, even from ideal locations far from city lights. The next great meteor storm from the Leonids is not expected until just before the 22nd Century! The next good meteor shower, the Geminid shower, is about three weeks away.  

If you know of any Leonid shower "watch" parties, tell us about it in the commenting section of this story.

Here's one of the 10 coolest things to know about the Leonids, from Space.com: "Leonids are spawned by the comet Tempel-Tuttle. Every 33 years, it rounds the Sun and then goes back to the outer solar system. On each passage across Earth's orbit, Tempel-Tuttle lays down another trail of debris..."

The Leonids shower is so-called because the meteors seem to radiate outward from the constellation Leo. The starting point, called the radiant for obvious reasons, is found in the part of Leo that looks like a backwards question mark. 

The Leonids have been called a meteor "storm" (rather than just a "shower") some years, but reports say this year will be limited to "at best 10 to 15 meteors per hour." The last Leonid storm, with thousands of shooting stars per hour, was in 2002.

report from MSNBC says there is a reason this year's display is a bit different: there will be "two peaks of activity, one on Saturday morning and another on Tuesday morning (Nov. 20)."

To make sure you get the best view possible, remember to check the weather forecast and conditions before you head outside to watch.

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